From Our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: Can my partner and I use tenants by the entirety ownership as New Jersey domestic partners?
What is Tenants by the Entirety Ownership?
There are various forms of shared ownership over a piece of real property. In some states, including New Jersey, one form is Tenants by the Entirety. This allows each co-owner to own an undivided interest in the entire property, so each owner owns the whole property. To be eligible to own property as Tenants in the Entirety, the co-owners must be a married couple. In New Jersey, accepting a deed that states both their names as husband and wife creates a presumption of this ownership.
Who Can Own Property as Tenants by the Entirety in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, a couple may be registered as domestic partners, initially offered in recognition that two individuals of the same sex could not enter a legal marriage when this was implemented. This registration provides a couple with some, but not all, of a legal marriage’s social and financial benefits.
Tenants by the Entirety ownership is one such benefit of legal marriage. New Jersey previously considered offering this benefit to domestic partners. However, this decision was phased out by the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in New Jersey in 2013. This update in the law provided an alternate way for couples who previously sought domestic partner status to receive all of the benefits and privileges of marriage.
The arrival of same-sex marriage reduced the immediate need for change. New Jersey then declined the opportunity to extend these protections to those in a domestic partnership.
What are the Alternatives to Tenants by the Entirety?
You may find that the deed to your home indicated that you and your partner own the property as Joint Tenants with a Right of Survivorship. This alternative form of shared ownership provides some of the benefits of Tenants by the Entirety ownership. For example, with both of these forms of ownership, if a co-owner passes away, the surviving co-owner automatically inherits the deceased’s interest in the property. This right of survivorship is a valuable estate planning tool to avoid the onerous probate process.
Why Own Property as Tenants by the Entirety?
There are added benefits to Tenants by the Entirety ownership that may make it a more attractive alternative, such as creditor protection. Your property will be protected if your spouse is sued or incurs a debt in their own name. A creditor cannot reach property held as Tenants by the Entirety to satisfy an obligation or liability of one spouse.
Can Klenk Law Help You Own Your Home as Tenants by the Entirety?
At Klenk Law, we offer various deed services. If you do not currently own your home as tenants by the Entirety and would like to, we can help you determine your eligibility. If you are eligible for this form of share ownership, we can draft a new deed to the property to ensure that you receive all the protections available to you by the State of New Jersey.
In Conclusion: Tenants by the Entirety Ownership as New Jersey Domestic Partners
We hope you found this short article about Tenants by the Entirety Ownership as New Jersey Domestic Partners helpful. We have also included some links for more detailed information. Contact us if you want to know more or need our help with guardianship. Let our guardianship lawyers help you walk you through what can be a confusing process. Feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.
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Article by Paige Zirrith